Mechanical pencils are considerably more convenient for students compared to traditional wooden pencils. Using them lets you have a clean line with every word written and prevents the awkward shuffle to the back of the classroom to sharpen up.
As an incoming high-school senior with an excessive number of mechanical pencils and other writing instruments, I feel qualified enough to give my two cents on what I believe is the best in terms of everyday student use. From ones with unique and useful features to others that simply look cool, I've compiled a list of a few of my favorite mechanical pencils I use on a near-daily basis. Enjoy!
Note: I'll try to keep every pencil featured here affordable, and prices will be listed next to the name.
Personal Favorite: Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil - $8
The Zebra DelGuard was, for a very long time, my favorite mechanical pencil. I like using it at school. It's affordable enough for me not to worry about having it stolen while retaining the technology to make the user experience impressive. The DelGuard comes in a wide variety of colors and even special collaboration editions (although these cost more money), so finding one that fits your style won't be too hard.
Another cool feature I like is the weird assembly of the pencil. Unscrewing the grip exposes a large amount of the anti-lead-breaking mechanism, which is fascinating to look at. I (unfortunately) find myself staring at this pencil often when I'm bored in class.
The knock is very satisfying! The travel distance feels a little short, but the click is quite firm, which makes it feel like I'm using something sophisticated. The plastic used on the pencil doesn't feel as cheap as many other mechanical pencils in this price range, and I have no qualms with the overall build quality of the DelGuard.
Pentel Orenz Mechanical Pencil - $9.50
The Orenz barely fits into the category, but it can often be found on sale for much lower. The Orenz lineup of mechanical pencils is pretty unorthodox. All the pencils feature an auto-advancing lead pipe that provides stability in writing with tiny lead diameters (0.2 mm and 0.3 mm).
Although Orenz series mechanical pencils can be purchased in larger diameters, such as 0.5 mm, I'd only recommend getting this pencil in 0.2 mm or 0.3 mm to take advantage of the cool mechanism.
I'd recommend this pencil for students who enjoy a very thin line and want a comfortable way to write with tiny lead diameters. The sensation of writing with this pencil is a little strange at first, but I quickly got used to it. You're supposed to write with the lead pipe touching the paper, which can cause a bit of scratchiness in writing, but the benefit of anti-breakage is worth it to me.
Pentel P200 Series Mechanical Pencil - $5.75
Pentel P200 series mechanical pencils are actually the only "traditional" mechanical pencils on this list. That is, they don't feature any special mechanisms such as lead guards. These pencils are well-loved drafting pencils that are great for a nice, firm writing experience.
Writing with P200 mechanical pencils is fun. The clicks are satisfying, and the overall experience is very firm. The build quality is high, but the body remains extremely lightweight. For the low price, this mechanical pencil is definitely worth it.
I'd recommend P200 pencils for students who want a more traditional writing experience with a mechanical pencil - something straightforward and reliable without bells and whistles. If you'd like more information on this pencil, I have a full review of this mechanical pencil here.
Ticonderoga SenseMatic Mechanical Pencil - $3
Note: Only available in packs of two and above.
The SenseMatic is an interesting mechanical pencil. It's rather cheap and made by the yellow pencil brand, and it takes a rather strange approach to mechanical pencils.
The writing experience is strange. It features an auto-advancing mechanism just like the Orenz, but it's implemented in a much subtler way. There is no knock, and all the advancement is reliant on the mechanism. I'm not sure how it was done, but it feels very bouncy to write with. It's not annoying, but it makes the lead feel extremely soft, and Ticonderoga did an excellent job with it.
This pencil feels as close as you can get to a traditional wooden pencil in terms of mechanical pencils with thin(ner) lead diameters. It also takes the shape of their traditional pencils, so it'd probably blend right into a school environment. Unfortunately, the eraser isn't detachable, but unscrewing it reveals a compartment for spare leads. I'm pretty sure only one piece of lead should be in the mechanism at a time, so the extra "carrying tube" has quite a useful purpose as some sort of lead holder.
And, there are my picks for the best mechanical pencils for school use. With the school year fast approaching, remember that, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what gear you use for schoolwork. What matters is that you do your best. It's easy to get over-fixated on stationery (I would know), but that's secondary. You can be an excellent student with bare-bones tools.
Good luck in school!